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Thursday, January 20, 2011
Former ESPN announcer sues network over firing

Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas -- Former ESPN announcer Ron Franklin has sued the network over his firing for reportedly berating a female colleague.

The wrongful termination lawsuit filed Monday in state district court in Franklin's hometown of Austin claims ESPN had no grounds for dismissing him. The suit says Franklin exchanged "contentious words" with a colleague who repeatedly interrupted a private conversation before the pair worked at the Chick-fil-A Bowl without incident.

Sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards has said Franklin called her "sweet baby" in a condescending tone. When she objected, he used a derogatory term. Edwards said a colleague reported the incident to ESPN officials.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and other fees, but not reinstatement. An attorney for Franklin didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Franklin was pulled from Fiesta Bowl coverage on New Year's Day, a day after the Chick-fil-A Bowl, and later apologized. He was fired Jan. 5.

The lawsuit claims ESPN and its corporate partner, ABC, spread "false and inflated versions" of the exchange and damaged Franklin's reputation.

"We are confident that the action we took was appropriate," said Josh Krulewitz, a spokesman for Bristol, Conn.-based ESPN.

Franklin was one of the lead play-by-play voices for ESPN for 24 years, calling primarily college football and basketball.